Recently, I had a discussion with a very close friend about Christmas. I would like to elaborate a little more on what our discussion entailed. However, let me start with informing you of what we discussed.
Our conversation started with a simple greeting. My friend proceeded to tell me how ready he is for the holidays as it means the end of a school semester for both of us; I, however, was not as excited about the holidays as he was. He then wanted to know why I wasn’t very excited or happy. I told him that holidays are beginning to mean less to me as I grow older. He asked why; I told him that when the holidays come around, everyone begins to assume extreme materialistic personalities and that I am not a very materialistic person. He expressed that it’s better to be together with another and share your fruitfulness with them and I agreed that that is better.
He then posed this question: what would you want if you could have anything? I responded by saying that I didn’t know what I would want, and the reason being is because I do not want anything or anything in particular; many had asked me this same question recently and I told them all that I didn’t know what I wanted.
Then I responded with this: I want to give. He told me that I deserved more and I responded by saying possibly and that in all honesty my thoughts were as follows: if I receive a gift I will be grateful. I then said that Christmas doesn’t even feel like Christmas anymore if good tidings and joy are not spread; this is because I feel that people have become more concerned about getting gifts rather than focusing on the meaning behind the gift.
This has become problematic for others when trying to get me a gift because I always tell them that I either don’t know what I want or want nothing. I feel that as long as I feel loved and that love is being spread to others outside of myself, that that makes Christmas worthwhile for me. For me, Christmas, past any belief, should spread love and happiness to others and I believe that anyone can do that.
That was the meat of our conversation. Now to further the discussion.
Christmas isn’t what it used to be, not simply because I have grown up and realize that Santa Claus isn’t real, but because nothing around the holidays feels genuine anymore. I could look around and see people I have known for years string lights up on their house, erect Nativities, host social gatherings, and buy gifts for others, and still feel like it’s all out of tradition and ritual; essentially, they do it because that’s just what you do during Christmas.
Too many Christmases have passed where I wake up, surrounded by gifts and my family and feel that no love is circulating around me. Sure, I might be happy for temporary moments with my gifts but that quickly passes and all I am left with is a lack of feeling fulfillment in my heart.
Honestly question yourself: when was the last time you felt someone spreading love and happiness to others during Christmas time? When was the last time you felt like the world had become one big positive space just for some precious moments because of the traditions of Christmas? I haven’t felt anything like that in a long time. What’s worse is that I don’t even feel it coming from my family.
I am not one claiming to be an expert on Christmas or how to do it right but when I think of Christmas, I think of being reminded how it feels to have someone in my life that I love; I think of loving the ones I love back ten times as much; I think of seeing smiles on the faces of strangers and happiness in everyone’s eyes. I think of giving gifts to those who have no means to receive gifts. You could ask what Christmas means to me and I couldn’t give you a straight answer in words but I could give you one via my actions.
Far too long have I been disgusted with how American society has materialized Christmas. I have often said that I would rather spend a Christmas with my family and friends, receive no gifts and simply enjoy the company of them and express how much I love them through actions and that would be a grand Christmas to me. Our society has, however, made Christmas about the gift and less about the message.
Think for a second: why do we purchase gifts for anyone? I think we give gifts to others because we wish to express some level of gratitude and/or love toward them; usually it requires no reason or premise because we give the gift because we felt uncontrollably compelled to give it to the desired person.
Nowadays, it seems that people just ask you what you want for Christmas rather than trying to surprise you with something special or meaningful that they put a lot of thought into. Sure, sometimes we can’t think of something to get a person and so it’s easier to ask; I wonder however, how much would someone remember a meaningful card with a personal message that you hand wrote them over a gift that you asked them about (that would likely be worn out of its worth in a week’s time)?
What’s even scarier to me though, is the expectation of tangible gifts. If there is no tangible gift, it seems like Christmas just wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. This expectation is ruining the message behind Christmas and for American society, it seems like we are so hell-bent on keeping this expectation that there is no Christmas if there are no gifts. It seems like we’re so far-gone that we can’t come back.
I can only remember one Christmas that has had true, genuine, unbelievable meaning to me in the last five years. It was the Christmas of 2013 and I had come home from college for the holidays. Shortly after coming home I was bombarded with questions about what I wanted for Christmas. As you might have expected, I replied with, “I don’t know so surprise me.” Up until Christmas Eve, I focused solely on relaxing and enjoying not having to do anything.
However, on the night of Christmas Eve, I began to feel a sort of unexplained happiness welling up inside me. Being surrounded by family and the spirit of cheeriness, I felt joy. I was joyful for being with my family again and for spending time with them and doing things for them because I wanted to be nice, because it was out of love. I danced, I sang, and I laughed. I waited for the clock to strike midnight and as I did I was at my sister’s side, just sitting next to her and being grateful that I had her in my life. The clock struck 12:00 and I said “Merry Christmas” to her, and gave her a kiss. We fell asleep.
We woke up eight hours later and I got to watch my nephew open up his gifts. I watched as my family had opened up their gifts and were filled with joy. I opened up my gifts and was ecstatic about them; I had not expected much or anything really and what I got made me so happy. Granted, I only received one gift, but that one gift which came by surprise and I’m sure a lot of thought, meant more to me that any gift I had received in the past few Christmases. The rest of the day I spent with my family, just taking them in and being thankful that they were my family.
Sure, maybe that wasn’t much for a Christmas but it was enough for me and it had more meaning than anything else that year. For everyone, I challenge you to go out and spread love and happiness this Christmas. Don’t just settle for receiving gifts and silly traditions; actively go out and make a difference in someone’s day, or Christmas or life. I can almost guarantee you will be more likely to remember your holiday season and be happier overall with it too.
Christmas doesn’t ask for much and I honestly never think it did. Even though it never asked for much, it always had a reason to make the most of what it had. That’s what I’m doing now in my life. I’m making the most of what I have. I have had years to think about it but what I feel in my heart now, is far more precious than what I used to feel. It has made Christmas more meaningful and now I know how to keep it that way.
I have my own opinions on Christmas but I would love to hear yours. Please, leave your comments below about Christmas, what it means to you, and if you feel that something could be changed about how we perceive Christmas. It is of good tidings and cheer to accept all comments and so all comments are welcome.